Hey Vern It's Ernest (Kenner)


Hey Vern It's Ernest

It's always fun to see the inception of pop culture creations which have such humble beginnings. Such is the case of the character Ernest P. Worrell. Jim Varney created the character with advertising company, Carden & Cherry for the purposes of him being used in various local Nashville television ads.

The commercials always followed the same structure, with Ernest showing up at the home of his off camera, and never seen neighbor, Vern. The comedic sketches would involve the lead character plugging the product of choice, with the audience seemingly, and unknowingly, taking on the role of Vern. Each ad would end with Ernest's catch phrase, "KnowhutImean?"

Several national ad campaign offers were sent, but due to contractual obligations to varying local companies, the Ernest character wasn't able to be used. This prompted the advertising company to instead transition the character to film and television, and the rest was soon history, knowhutImean?

Ernest's first outing in the world of feature films was as a cameo character in Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam. However, by 1987, Jim Varney was starring as the character in his own film, Ernest Goes to Camp. Four theatrical releases would follow, Ernest Saves Christmas (1988), Ernest Goes To Jail (1990), Ernest Scared Stupid (1991), and Ernest Rides Again (1993). However, by the latter, the popularity of the character began waning. While future films would follow, these were delegated straight to video.

Amidst the height of his 80's popularity, Varney brought the character to the short lived, Hey Vern It's Ernest television series. The show aired from September to December of 1988, and featured thirteen episodes across a single season. Each episode showcased a variety of characters, and while there was a main plot featured in each one, this was broken up by skit segments. Varney would ultimately take home a daytime Emmy Award for his role.

It was during this period that Kenner would release the talking Hey Vern It's Ernest doll. The sixteen inch toy featured a pull string, which when tugged would activate numerous phrases from the character. Of course you'd hear, knowhutImean among them.

Having two Ernest dedicated films under his belt certainly helped sales, and Kenner knew it would. That's why the back of the box makes sure to reference Ernest's 1987 and 1988 outings.

As popularity in the character dropped, so too did demand for the doll, and it was inevitably discontinued. Even these days, they're not too highly sought after, and a mint in the package toy can sell for as little as $40.00. With that said, many second hand dealers try to price the doll out at one hundred dollars or more. However, these typically will not sell for that much.

Sadly, Jim Varney was a long time chain smoker, and this caught up with him in 1998 when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Though he quit smoking and began chemotherapy, the treatments didn't work, and he passed away in February 2000 at his home.

While tragic, Varney will always be remembered by kids of the 80's as the lovable Ernest P. Worrell. What better way to keep those memories than by adding a Hey Vern It's Ernest to your toy shelf?

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

No comments:

Post a Comment